The Art of Innovation

November 13, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Guy Kawasaki:
The Art of Innovation

Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley marketing executive, author, and former Chief Evangelist of Apple, is on the Board of and advisor to a number of companies, and currently also Chief Evangelist for Canva, an online graphic design tool provider.

One of the most engaging presenters on TED and among presenters generally, Guy Kawasaki was an early member of the Silicon Valley start-up community, and delivering and listening to numerous sales pitches for new ventures, he developed his ‘Top 10’ presentation format.

This uses a maximum of 10 main points and usually the same number of slides as its framework and he uses it for most of his presentations—including the TED presentation featured here. As he says, “the low number of slides forces you to concentrate on the essentials“.

TEDxBerkeley 2014

Guy Kawasaki also has an interesting blog column on his LinkedIn page, which I recommend checking out—and one of the most recent posts is ‘The Minimalist Guide to Pitching’, which you can access here.  It provides advice to anyone who needs to pitch their company or ideas to someone else, his 6 tips are great tips for almost any presentation.

He has written over 10 books, the most popular of which include:

The Macintosh Way (1990)
The Art of the Start (2004)
Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions (2011)

151113 G Kawasaki Enchantment

His most recent book is The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users (2015).

Trond Varlid

To access more TEDx videos:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Five Ways to Quickly Improve as a Presenter

November 6, 2015. Five Ways to Quickly Improve as a Presenter.

Improving presentation skills takes time and practice, but below are five ways to quite quickly improve how you present.

Make your narrative lead your slides.
Are you like most speakers, when you present with slides you will first show a slide—then talk about it?

What happens then?  Inevitably, your audience will immediately start reading and looking at your slide—you lose their attention and they may not catch what you say at that moment.

A better way is to first briefly explain what your next slide will show—then show it.  That way the audience will first listen to your explanation, anticipate what is coming—and more quickly grasp the slide content when it comes up.

And you should briefly pause when they first look at the slide, to give them time to understand it. For this purpose you may want to use the ‘B’ key on your computer keyboard, which will make the screen black while you explain—then press the B key again and click to the next slide that you have just explained.

Of course, some of your slides may be intentionally designed to surprise your audience—in which case this recommendation does not apply.

What is your level as a presenter?

151106 What is your level as a presenter

© 2015 EMC Quest K.K.

Avoid reading your slides.
Do you ever read your slides when presenting?

If so, you are not the only one—as this is probably the most common mistake made by speakers. This is ‘Level 1’ in our informal ranking of presenter skills—see illustration above. Why is this so common?

One reason is that for many speakers their slides are their presentation script.  They put most of what they plan to say into their slides.  And because presenters often do not schedule or take time to practice their presentation in advance—they have not internalized (remembered) their presentation content well enough, and have no choice but to read their slides.  They may also read their slides because they are nervous.

Unfortunately, your audience can read the slides much faster than you can read them aloud—and your presentation quickly becomes boring…. And what is the purpose of having you there as a presenter since people can read by themselves?

One way to avoid reading the slide is to use small hand-size index cards.  On these cards you put the key words for each part of the presentation, to prompt your memory about what you are going to say.

You can then easily face the audience most of the time and avoid relying on the slides as your written script.

Keep an upright and balanced posture.
How do you stand when you speak?

Surprisingly often the speaker’s posture can be a distraction for the audience—a common mistake being leaning on one leg (the ‘broken leg syndrome’). By making sure that you keep an upright and balanced posture when you present you will not only avoid distracting the audience with your posture—you will also project confidence and authority as a speaker.

Yves Morieux, TED Speaker with Great Posture.

Make eye contact with entire audience.
Do you struggle to keep the attention of your audience?

Do they look bored or keep looking at their smartphones? Two of the most effective ways to get people’s attention when presenting are making continuous eye contact with the entire audience—and using voice dynamics (see next point).  For eye contact, use the ‘scan and stop’ technique.

Keep eye contact with one audience member for about 4 seconds at a time, then continue scanning around the audience and make eye contact with another person. By continuously scanning across the room people will feel that you are talking to each of them and you can more easily keep their attention.

In a very large room with a large number of people present, it may not be possible to make direct eye contact with each individual.  However, even in such a setting, by continuously scanning across the audience, from left to right, and front to back—people will still feel that you are paying attention to them, and you will thereby keep their attention.

Use the 4 Ps of Voice Dynamics
Do you speak with a flat, monotone voice when presenting?

The voice is probably the presenter’s most under-utilized ‘tool’.  If you use the ‘4 Ps’ of voice dynamics—Pitch, Pace, Pause & Passion—it can make a huge difference to making you a far more engaging and dynamic speaker to listen to.

Using the 4 Ps of voice dynamics is effectively the same as speaking as you would normally speak when you talk to someone one-to-one about a topic you feel passionately about.

When we stand up in front of a group of people to present, however, our voices tend to go into a flat, monotonous speaking mode—partly because we may feel nervous, partly because we are thinking about what we are going to say next.

Here is how you can use the 4Ps of Voice Dynamics:  Vary your voice pitch and pace; speak slowly at times, then speed up, slow down again—pause from time to time, to give people time to reflect on what you just said, and/or for emphasis.

Ken Robinson, TED Speaker with Excellent Voice Dynamics

[most watched TED video of all time – 35.3 million views]

If you can be more conscious of your voice when you speak, it can make a great difference in commanding the attention and interest of your audience.

And speak with passion! Show that you care about your topic. This does not mean screaming or shouting; but showing your passion and interest through your voice.  If you sound monotonous and boring, why should the audience feel any different?

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Personal Efficiency: Desirable and Achievable!

October 30, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Jean-luc Doumont: 
Personal Efficiency: Desirable and Achievable!

We continue our series featuring selected TED speakers—who you can study to improve your own speaking and presentation skills.

This time we feature a very recent talk delivered at TEDxGhent, Belgium, in August 2015, by Jean-luc Doumont, Engineer, Stanford University PhD in Applied Physics, Speaker and Author of ‘Trees, Maps and Theorems, Effective Communication for Rational Minds Principiae’ (2009).

How is your personal efficiency? If you are like most of us, you struggle to find enough time to do all the things you have to do, should do and would like to do.

So much to do, so little time to do it in, as Jean-luc Doumont says in the opening of his TED talk. This dilemma is the focus of his talk and he offers a solution for how to approach and resolve it—and the talk is well worth watching just for his useful advice.

However, his talk is also an excellent example of a well-structured presentation delivered with impact and persuasion—and illustrates some key points to pay attention to if you want to improve as a speaker.

Opening.  Watch how Doumont opens his talk—going straight into it, from the very first sentence—without any of the conventional ‘pleasant unpleasantries’, as World Class Speaking founder Craig Valentine calls it.  The kind of conventional openings you often hear from speakers—such as ‘Good morning, I am very happy to be here and thank you for coming to listen today despite the bad weather’, etc.

That’s the kind of opening which makes people immediately start checking their E-mails or Facebook page on their smartphones, while they wait for the speaker to get into his or her topic.

Posture.  Note Doumont’s balanced and upright posture, not leaning on one leg as many speakers tend to do (the ‘broken leg syndrome’). He also stays in one position much of the time, projecting a very confident and commanding presence to the audience. He moves occasionally, but only on purpose—avoiding another common mistake by speakers: purposeless movement.

Body Language. Despite staying mostly in one position, and making use of slides sparingly—Doumont keeps our interest and attention using a number of effective delivery ‘tools’: voice dynamics, gestures and eye contact. We all have these tools but very often do not use them—or do not use them properly and effectively when speaking in front of a group.

Trond Varlid

To access more TEDx videos:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Have a Fish Story – Inspire Change!

October 23, 2015. ‘Have a Fish Story – Inspire Change!’

Jim Donald, former CEO of Starbucks, Haggen Foods & Pharmacy, and other companies, says every leader needs a ‘fish story’ to communicate his vision and inspire change.

Jim Donald is not your average executive. He made his reputation from successfully turning around several major, struggling companies—and was also featured in one of our recent newsletters as a great speaker and storyteller.

One of the more memorable moments from his executive career, was as CEO of Haggen Foods & Pharmacy—which he was hired to turn around.  After several months of struggling to make employees understand the need for change, he called a major town hall meeting of 1,800 employees.

He had a surprising and dramatic opening of his speech to the meeting group using a ‘fish story’ (yes, literally!…), making an unforgettable impact on all those present.

Although he took a number of actions to turn around the company, apart from his town hall meeting—his speech to employees at a critical time is a good example of how presenting with impact can play a major role in inspiring people to change.

You can watch Jim Donald tell and demonstrate his fish story in the video clip below, from his presentation at a leadership seminar to the U.S Naval Academy in 2010 (skip to 3’52” where his presentation starts):

Based on his executive turnaround experiences Jim Donald developed his own 6 Steps for Leadership and Success:

1. Have a ‘Fish Story’—leaders must have a compelling story to bring across his message and make change happen.

2. Never be Bigger than Your Frontline Staff—put your employees first and recognize them for what they do.

3. Go Where You’ve Never Been Before—think new, and even do completely different things from the past.

4. Communicate to Everyone—Jim Donald made it a trademark to send out a short message to all employees every day.

5. Encourage Risk Taking with the Freedom to Fail—let people know they are permitted to fail to encourage risk taking and new thinking.

6. Celebrate the Success of Others—do make a point of celebrating the success of others across the organization.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Michigan Study: How Persuasive Are You?

October 16, 2015. How Persuasive Are You?
The Importance of Voice and Speech Pattern for Your Ability to Persuade.

How would you like to be more persuasive when you speak?  Research by a team at the University of Michigan (photos above) provides some interesting and useful insights. The University of Michigan study used 1,380 telephone interviews by 100 male and female interviewers to analyze the impact of speech rate, voice pitch and pauses on persuasion ability.  The study correlated these measures with how successful the interviewers were in persuading the respondents to participate in University of Michigan surveys.

The study analyzed several objective measures of speech: Words per second, voice pitch (Hz) and number of pauses per turn (a linguistic measure)—graph below.

151016 Michigan Study image 2

“Interviewers who spoke moderately fast, at a rate of about 3.5 words per second, were much more successful at getting people to agree than either interviewers who talked very fast or very slowly,” said Jose Benki, one of the researchers.

Among the findings was that male interviewers with lower pitch voices were more successful than those with a higher pitch.  For female interviewers the voice pitch seemed to be less influential.

Another finding was the importance of pauses. According to Benki, when people speak they naturally pause about 4-5 times per minute.  Interviewers who had few or no pauses were less successful in persuading their respondents.

The researchers believe this is because overly fluent speakers sound too scripted—and therefore less credible, like ‘sales talk’.  Excessive pausing on the other hand, make you sound less credible and competent—also lowering your ability to persuade.

Pauses may be helpful in making you sound more natural and conversational, thereby establishing a better rapport with the person(s) you are speaking to—which in turn will make you more persuasive.

Although you cannot change the basic voice you are born with—your voice can be trained for speaking purposes. With awareness and training you can avoid speaking too fast or too slowly, and you can learn to use strategic pauses more effectively in speech and presentations.

Your voice pitch is partly gender dependent, but within your voice pitch range you can, with practice, ensure that you use your most resonant voice pitch, which is more effective. Public speakers commonly raise their voice pitch due to being nervous or just unconsciously raise their voice when speaking in front of a group.

Published in May 2011, the full research report can be downloaded here.

According to their Web site, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization.

ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the U.S.—including the American National Election Studies, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, among others.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

The Power of Introverts

October 9, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

Susan Cain, a self-professed introvert—is a writer and lecturer, and a former corporate lawyer. She graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you don’t know, you may want to try this 10-question test on Susan Cain’s Web site:

More than 30% of people are introverts, says Susan Cain in this inspiring and highly interesting talk—one of the 20 most popular TED talks of all time.  Famous introverts include Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet, Chopin, Larry Page (Google), Charles Darwin, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Gandhi—and more.

TED2012 12.1 million views on

Opening with a story, Cain provides a great example of how introverts, as speakers, can be just as compelling as any extrovert. Among other talents, introverts are excellent listeners—making them more attuned to the needs and interests of others—including the audiences to whom they are speaking.  Great introvert speakers include Barack Obama, Al Gore and Mark Zuckerberg.

The title of Cain’s TED talk is taken from her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012). More than 2 years after publication, the book remains an Amazon #1 bestseller in 3 categories—and the 101st most sold book among all Amazon books.

This year Forbes Magazine has run an interesting series of articles about introverts, their challenges, talents and interaction with extroverts. You can find all the articles on the Forbes Web site here.

For more information on topics related to introverts, visit Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution Web site:

Trond Varlid

Access more TED videos:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Stanford Study: How CEO Presentations Influence Investors

October 2, 2015. Stanford Study:
How CEO Presentations Influence Investors

How does the quality of your presentation impact your audience—whether investors, senior management or your team members?

A new study by Stanford University Graduate School of Business, published on August 12, 2015—partly addresses that question. The study examined how the quality of CEO presentations at IPO roadshows influences investor perceptions and company valuations.

The research showed that CEO presentation abilities do influence perceptions of their competence, trustworthiness and attractiveness—qualities measured by the study—and thereby investor impressions and actions.

The Stanford study provides empirical evidence supporting the findings of an Ernst & Young 2008 survey—in which 88% of investors mentioned the quality of roadshow presentations as a key non-financial measure influencing their share buying decisions.

Stanford Professor Elizabeth Blankenspoor (C. photo above), who lead the research study, together with Professors Greg Miller (L.) and Brad Hendricks (R.), says: “Taken together, our results provide evidence that basic impressions of management have a significant impact on investors’ assessments of firm quality”.

The Stanford research study examined 224 CEO presentations at IPO roadshows during 2011-2013 on U.S. exchanges, with 900 randomly selected survey participants watching and rating the presentations.

IPOs were chosen because typically for IPO investors the first major impression of the company and opportunity to gain knowledge, is the roadshow presentation by company CEOs—creating the best research design (research methodology explained in the report—see link further below).

In the Stanford study CEO qualities of competence, trustworthiness and attractiveness were positively associated with investor perceptions and an IPO firm’s secondary market value—even after controlling for traditional determinants of firm value.

Trond Varlid

Stanford Study Report (2015): click here
Ernst & Young Survey (2008): click here

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

The Power of Storytelling

September 25, 2015. The Power of Storytelling.
Improve Your Presentations. Tell Stories!

Jim Donald, former Starbucks CEO: A Master Storyteller.

Jim Donald is an American executive known for a number of successful, major corporate turnarounds, and a former CEO of Starbucks, among other CEO positions—and a captivating speaker.

Are you struggling to create and deliver stories with impact in your presentations?

If you believe in the power of stories to engage your audience and make your presentations memorable, this three minute self-introduction speech, using three stories, by Jim Donald at the 2005 Starbucks shareholders’ meeting provides a great benchmark and inspiration.

At the time, Jim Donald was President of Starbucks North America and soon to become the next CEO. As you will see, he is a master storyteller and a model for how to create captivating stories and deliver them with great impact.

In fact, so effective and engaging is his way of storytelling that it is easy to be taken in by the stories themselves—and overlook what he is doing as a storyteller and how he does it.

Why is he such an engaging and captivating storyteller?

Firstly, his stories are very well structured—with a story lead-in to create curiosity and get the audience’s attention, then setting the scene of each story—with enough detail for the audience to get a good image of the setting and atmosphere, but not so detailed that the stories lose momentum. And he has a short punch line, which is the same for each story—connecting the stories as well as using repetition for maximum effect.

Secondly, in delivering his stories, Jim Donald makes full use of the techniques and ‘tools’ that we all have at our disposal, if we just make use of them:  Passion, energy, voice dynamics, pauses, eye contact, and body language.

I think you will find it difficult not to be taken in by his infectious passion and energy—his obvious enthusiasm for telling you the stories. He varies his voice pitch and speaking pace throughout, making effective use of short pauses—and speaking as if he were talking to you one-to-one.

Throughout his short speech he continuously looks across the entire audience, making eye contact, and using gestures and stage movements to emphasize and illustrate his stories. All important qualities to be an engaging and effective speaker.

Jim Donald’s success in turning around large, struggling corporations brought him to the attention of Sam Walton, the Wal-Mart founder, who also hired him at one point.

He is a strong believer in the power of stories to exercise leadership and help persuade organizations to change—and says he writes a story every day. We plan to  come back to Jim Donald in later newsletter articles.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Message Map

September 18, 2015.
Carmine Gallo: Message Map.
How to Pitch Anything in 15 Seconds.

Carmine Gallo is a leading communication coach, speaker and author of several best-selling books on presentation skills and public speaking—including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and Talk Like TED, his most recent book, published in early 2014.

In this short video below he shows how you can use the concept of a Message Map to create a clear and powerful opening message for your product or service in a sales situation.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Smart Simplicity

September 11, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the Best TED Speakers.

Yves Morieux: Smart Simplicity.
As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify.

TED@BCG San Francisco, October 2013

Yves Morieux is Senior Partner and Managing Director at Boston Consulting Group.

At EMC Quest training workshops and coaching sessions, we emphasize the importance of finding your own style as a speaker and presenter – one that fits your personality and that you feel comfortable with.

In identifying a style that suits you, you may find it helpful to study leading speakers who could be your role models.

Many of the best contemporary speakers appear on the TED platform, so is a good place to visit regularly—if you want to improve as a presenter and speaker.

Yves Morieux represents one style of speaking—one that is calm and measured, but highly engaging in his own way.  Note how he stands in the same position throughout his 12-minute talk— without moving even once!  Yet at the same time he is very dynamic, and captivating his audience through his use of voice, speaking pace, gestures and other body language.

Morieux’s TED talk is well worth a study—and he speaks on an interesting and highly relevant topic for most of us.

We were alerted to this great speaker by a good friend and client, Guillaume Desurmont, Asia-Pacific General Manager of Arkema Group.  Thanks Guillaume!

Trond Varlid

Access more TED videos:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.